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Social Media Design Tips & Blogs

How to Create GIFs for Instagram

Updated on September 16, 2018
6 minute read

If you want to wow your Instagram followers, keep their eyes on your content longer, and increase your engagement rate, it's time to learn how to create GIFs for Instagram!

Published September 16, 2018

If you want to wow your Instagram followers, keep their eyes on your content longer, and increase your engagement rate, it’s time to learn how to create GIFs for Instagram!

If photos are the heart of your Instagram strategy, GIFs can help give your content some soul.

Creating cute and catchy GIFs that endlessly loop entices your Instagram followers to stay on your content longer, which helps them digest your message before they continue to thumb swipe away.

How to Create GIFs for Instagram using Photoshop:

Using GIFs as Instagram posts is an excellent way to bring new life to your feed, especially if you’re wanting to add some excitement to your regular product shots.

Adding simple design elements to make your product “move” is not only visually appealing, but it can also help you get more views and engagement on your Instagram posts.

If you’re wanting to stand out on Instagram, make an impression, and create content that your audience will love, creating GIFs for Instagram is a great strategy!

Before we delve into how to create GIFs for Instagram, it’s important to note two things:

  • Instagram GIFs must be uploaded as videos (using formats such as .mov or .mp4)

  • Your video must be at least 3 seconds long or it will not upload to Instagram

When you are planning on creating GIFs for Instagram, the most important part is pre-planning to ensure a smooth photoshoot and editing process.

Create a simple storyboard beforehand of how you envision each frame and create a list of necessary props. Once you’ve accomplished both, it’s time to talk about equipment.

Equipment You’ll Need to Create GIFs for Instagram:

It’s not necessary to have a fancy camera setup to create GIFs for Instagram, but it does help. Whether you are shooting on your phone or a camera you should at least have a tripod to stabilize your shots.

Equipment You Need to Have:

  • Tripod: for flatlay GIFs, you’ll need a Tripod with articulating arm OR C-stand with adapter & monopod head so you can shoot overhead.

  • Camera/Lens or cellphone

  • Computer & Adobe Photoshop

  • Photoshoot props

Equipment That’s Nice to Have:

  • Tethering cable to shoot remotely on your computer

  • Adobe Lightroom

  • Two piece of white foam core to bounce light in to brighten the scene

How to Shoot GIFs for Instagram:

Now that you’ve got your equipment, it’s time to shoot your GIF!

When specifically shooting a stop motion or endless loop GIF, you want your first and last scene to be exactly the same so it transitions seamlessly.

It’s important not to move anything that won’t have motion in the GIF, it’s distracting and can look a bit messy – make sure you simply don’t touch the still props or add a piece of fun tac or museum putty to the bottom of the prop to stabilize it.

Organize your additional props to the side of the scene and configure your camera settings – if you are using a phone, make sure your AF lock is on so your lighting and focus are uniform throughout each shot.

Now that you are all set up, it’s time to start shooting your GIF. Reference your storyboard and be careful not to touch or bump anything.

Make sure the setup is correct for each frame before taking the photo, and repeat the process until you have all of your frames. You’ll want to make sure you’re shooting your GIF in the order you’d like it to move, this makes editing a much smoother process.

Try to avoid taking too many shots of one frame so as not to confuse yourself when selecting photos to edit. Once you’ve finished shooting, it’s time for the technical fun in Photoshop.

How to Edit GIFs with Adobe Photoshop:

The best way to learn how to edit your GIFs using Photoshop is to watch our video above for a free step-by-step tutorial. For your reference, here’s what we show you in the video:

Once you’ve downloaded your photos to your computer, create a new file in Photoshop and go to File > Scripts > Load Files Into New Stack:

Click ‘browse’ and select the photos you want to use. Now that you have your layers, click Window > Timeline.

Click the button in the centre of your timeline and click “Create Frame Animation” from the drop down menu:

Your first layer will appear in the lower left-hand corner:

Create a new frame for each of your photos (I had 4 total) by clicking the ‘new frame’ button that looks like a sheet of paper, in the lower right hand corner.

Now you have a layer for each photo. Go to the Layers panel on the right hand side and only make the next photo you want visible by de-selecting images on top of it. Do this until all of your frames in the timeline are properly ordered how you want them:

Select all frames > click at the bottom of a frame to view speed options. I usually do “other” and type in .30. Make sure you GIF is looped for “forever” in the bottom left-hand corner.

If you want to reverse your GIF like I’m doing, select the middle part of the GIF (this means do not select the first and last frame.) Click the new frame button to paste.

Select all the frames that you just pasted. Go back to the toolbar one more time and select “Reverse Frames.”

Now you can check out the GIF you just created by pressing the play button to see how it looks!

Count to see how long your GIF is altogether – if it’s less than 3 seconds long you’ll need to select all of the frames to copy and paste another set of them, so that the GIF is longer. Remember, it needs to be at least 3 seconds long to post to Instagram!

Once you have at least 3 seconds, it’s time to render your GIF and post to Instagram! Go to Image > Image Size and make sure your GIF isn’t too large – 2000 x 2000 is a good pixel number.

Go to File > Export > Render Video. Select the folder you want it to go in and make sure your video is the ‘document size.’ If it’s too large, Photoshop will crop it.

Congratulations, you’ve created your first GIF for Instagram!

Just remember dimensions are important as well so make sure you check your instagram post size in cm.

Now, you can airdrop the video to your phone or upload your GIF to Later right from your desktop, where you can then schedule your Instagram post!

When posting your video to Instagram, remember to select an engaging cover photo, this will be the image that shows up on your Instagram profile. If you don’t select the cover photo, Instagram will pick a random slide and it may not be the best fit for your feed.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of creating GIFs for Instagram, you can start learning and creating more sophisticated GIFs with more frames to add personality and engagement to your Instagram posts!

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